Pepper Buruss


At an early age Pepper’s interest in the logistics of athletic teams and emergency medicine led him  down the road of Athletic Training and his fascination with being a part of an NFL Championship team fueled the fire.

He was told a means to that end would be to learn under a legend in the field, the late William ‘Pinky’ Newell at Purdue University. In 1976 he graduated with honors with a degree in health and safety education and then completed a physical therapy degree from Northwestern University Medical School.

Upon graduation in 1977 his dream began to take shape when he was hired as an Assistant Athletic Trainer by the New York Jets. Sixteen seasons later he followed in the footsteps of retiring WATA Hall of Famer, the late Dominic Gentile, being named the Green Bay Packer’s Head Athletic Trainer in 1993.  At Green Bay Burruss has been living his dream winning two Super Bowls with argumentatively the most storied team in NFL history.

In NY he was a part of the first-ever recipients of ‘NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year’ recognition. That staff was again honored at the 1994 NATA clinical symposium by former Jets defensive lineman Dennis Byrd, who credited the team’s emergency care as a contributing factor in his miraculous recovery from quadriplegia. Byrd had suffered a fractured neck after an on-field collision in a 1992 game.

His interest in Spine care lives on as in 2010 he was appointed by the NFL to the Head, Neck & Spine (“Concussion”) Committee.  He previously served on the NATA Inter-Association Spine Task Force.

He has helped lobby for state licensure in both NY & WI and has served two terms on the executive committee of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS). He has lectured at seven NATA Clinical Symposia, multiple state, district, college and service organizations throughout Wisconsin.

Born Thomas Pepper Burruss April 15, 1954, in Beacon, N.Y., he and his wife, Nancy, have one son, Shane, and one daughter, Christina.

Inducted April 15, 2011